Siddhantabindu of Madhusudana Sarasvati---5

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16. Now, the contradictory views about the meaning of the word ‘thou’ are first taken up. Though the entity denoted by the word ‘that’ deserves great respect since it is the ultimate import of the scriptures, the entity denoted by the word ‘thou’ deserves to be given more importance because it is that entity that attains liberation, which is the fruit of the scriptures.

Note: Strictly speaking, since ‘thou’ and ‘that’ are identical, there can be no question of the one being the attainer and the other the attained. So the language used here is only a concession to the popular notion that liberation is ‘attained’ on the removal of nescience.

17. The Charvakas say that the meaning of the word ‘thou’ (i.e. the individual self) is only the four elements (air, fire, water and earth) modified in the form of the body. Some other Charvakas hold that the eye, etc., individually is the self..Others hold that it is all these organs together. Some say that it is the mind and some that it is the vital air. The Saugatas (Buddhist idealists) say that it is momentary consciousness. The Madhyamika Buddhists hold that it is the void. The Jains say that it is something different from the body and of the size of the body. The Vaiseshikas, Naiyayikas and Mimamsakas of the Prabhakara school hold that it is the agent and enjoyer and is insentient and all-pervading. The Mimamsakas of the Bhatta school say that it is both sentient and insentient. (According to this school the self is both the subject and the object of every cognition. Being the subject it is consciousness itself, and being the object it is inert. They hold that the self has an element of consciousness which is the subject of cognition, and a substance element which is the object of cognition and therefore insentient). According to the Sankhyas and the followers of Patanjali’s Yoga the self is pure consciousness and only an enjoyer (not agent). The followers of the Upanishads hold that the self is looked upon as an agent, etc., only because of nescience and that it is in reality free from attributes, and is supreme bliss and consciousness.

18. Thus, because of the different views held by the various schools, doubt arises about the nature of the self that is consciousness and is known in a general way as ‘I’. Therefore, in order to determine specifically what is the basis of the notion ‘I’, the revered Acharya says: “I am not the element earth, nor water, nor fire, nor air, nor ether, nor any of the organs individually, nor all the elements and organs together as a whole. Because of variability (of the limiting adjuncts in the states of waking and dream), the self exists by itself only in deep sleep (without the limiting adjuncts in the form of the senses, mind, etc.). I am that most auspicious, attributeless, non-dual entity who alone remains (when all duality is negated). -- Sloka 1

19. This is the meaning: Aham-the basis of the cognition ‘I’. Ekah - without a second. Avasishtah - what is not negated even when all duality is negated. Sivah-of the nature of supreme bliss and consciousness, that alone being most auspicious. Kevalah-devoid of attributes.

20. Therefore the meaning is that the view of the followers of the Upanishads, that the basis of the cognition ‘I’ is the non-dual supreme bliss-consciousness which is beyond the scope of all means of knowledge, is superior. To establish this, the view that the body itself is the self is first taken up with the intention of refuting the views of all other schools. So it has been said: “Not the element earth, nor water, nor fire, nor air, nor ether”. The word ‘I’ is to be connected with each negation. I am not what is called the earth; the earth is not what is known as ‘I’. Thus absence of mutual identity is to be understood.

21. Though this school (Charvaka) does not claim that each of the elements such as earth separately is the self, but it only says that their combination is the self, still, for refuting their view that the body is the self, the rejection of each of the elements separately is resorted to, because the concept of a combination has no place in the Charvaka school for the following reasons: (1) they do not accept the idea of a combination as distinguished from its constituents, (2) they do not accept such relations as ‘conjunction’, because that is possible only if they admit a fifth element (namely, ether) and (3) in their school there is no entity that can bring about a combination.

22. Though, according to those who hold the view that there are only four elements, ether cannot be the cause of the body since it is merely absence of covering, is eternal and non-existent, it is rejected here because according to Advaita Vedanta ether is accepted as existent and a cause of the body, etc., and could therefore be claimed to be the self (by the Charvakas).

23. Or, it may be said that the rejection of the view that the body is the self ends with the statement ‘not air’. The statement ‘not ether’ is for rejecting the Buddhist doctrine that the void is the self, since the word ‘kham’ has the same import as the word ‘void’.

24. By the words ‘not an organ’ the view that any one of the organs is the self is rejected. By the statement ‘not their aggregate’, the view that the self is the aggregate of the elements and of the organs which have collectively become the body is rejected. The difference is that previously the possibility of a combination was not admitted and the view that each of the elements individually was the self was rejected, but now, even admitting a combination, the view that the self could be such a combination of the elements has been rejected.